At the time of this inspection the prison had been operating for over three years. However, the prison remained under-used and not at capacity. Enhanced accommodation options, Unit 3 and Unit 5, were both empty and there was no foreseeable date for them to reopen.
Although some infrastructure required maintenance, the buildings themselves had held up well. As the prison had now been operating for three years there had been some minor adjustments to the use of the infrastructure but in general it was being used as it had been designed.
Difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff across many employment groups was a major issue which impacted on almost every aspect of prison operation.
Staff dysfunction among certain groups was impacting on other staff and prisoners as it caused inconsistency in practice.
The crisis care unit was a cold, sterile and non-therapeutic environment which was the opposite of what was usually needed for the most vulnerable prisoners.
During the inspection the prisoner phone system was not working well and was a constant source of complaint and frustration from the prisoners.
There were noticeable improvements to services and support for the women prisoners. At the time of our inspection there was a Women’s Support Officer and a Life Skills Officer appointed to support the women, better access to employment, education and recreation, but access to programs was still problematic.
Most of the management and staff were very supportive of having women at EGRP and worked hard to meet their needs. Unfortunately, there was a small pocket of staff who were less supportive. We made recommendations to ensure all staff were appropriately trained and followed the relevant plans and policies for working with women.